Talk about a forced analogy:
What did file swappers do after Napster went down? They turned to Gnutella, a system that doesn’t require a central broker. Dean wants to be Napster, but his supporters are more like Gnutella: They don’t need to go through Dean to connect with one another.
I’m not sure I follow. Suellentrop is trying to say that Napster failed because it required a central server. And Gnutella has succeeded because it doesn’t require a central server.
Actually, Napster failed because it ultimately fostered illegal activity, and the people most harmed by that illegal activity had deeper pockets than Napster did.
While I think Suellentrop’s underlying message — that the lessons from the Dean campaign will fundamentally rewrite campaigning as we know it — is perfectly sound, I think he’s vastly understating the support Dean enjoys among his supporters.
I’ll be the first to admit that I could be wrong (and it will be interesting to revisit this prediction next spring and in November, 2004), but I’m convinced that the Dean popularity is not because of the Internet, it’s because of his message. The Internet simply lets others feel like they’re a part of that message. It’s that very participation that makes the difference.